It’s the 1980s, and art historian Claire Markham reels from a series of heartbreaking losses. Desperate to escape her shattered reality, she becomes an art guide in Europe for quirky stranger Viv Chancey and embarks on a life-changing journey through the art-filled cities of Milan, Venice, Ravenna, Florence, Siena, Rome, and Paris.
Once abroad, Claire tries to hide her woes by focusing on Viv’s art education, but Viv—who is not who she seems—has a different learning experience in mind. Frustrated and wanting to reimagine her life, Claire embraces the idea of reality as illusion and finds herself slipping into the tales of art and history.
When threatened with one more crushing loss, Claire must learn from the spirit of her eccentric companion and the lessons from the art they encounter to take charge of her life or lose the most precious thing in it.
The Art of Traveling Strangers is a journey of self-discovery and personal empowerment inspired by the great art masterpieces of Italy and France. It’s a tale of female bonding and the amazing powers of perception. After all, reality, like art, is just an illusion.
Zoe Disigny holds a master’s degree in art history and has taught at the college level throughout her career. She has led numerous art tours in Europe and established a business in Paris offering art history adventures for American tourists.
Athletic coaches are asked to wear more and more hats with each passing season, and in many cases, they are not receiving the support or training necessary to help them succeed in their ever-expanding roles. Drawing on over a decade spent as a college basketball coach and original research conducted on what leadership styles and behaviors help athletic coaches be successful, Lead Like a Pro provides coaches with the resources to transform their leadership practice and reach their full potential.
Whether you are a volunteer coaching your child’s team, a part-time high school coach who’s also a teacher, or a full-time college or professional coach, this book will teach you new ways to enhance your leadership style and become a better coach for your athletes and team. All coaches should be constantly working on improving their leadership abilities, but not all coaches have the time or opportunity to attend leadership conferences, training sessions, or classes. Lead Like a Pro provides insight into different leadership techniques, and teaches coaches how to evaluate their current practices so they can develop a strong leadership style that fits their personal values and beliefs.
After obtaining his Bachelor of Arts in history and classical studies from Indiana University, Dr. Matthew Raidbard decided to pursue his dream of being a college basketball coach. His first college basketball coaching job was at Western New Mexico University, where he also completed his Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership. In 2018, Dr. Raidbard conducted a study on how college basketball coaches perceived themselves as leaders, finding that many coaches were unsuccessful because they lacked the necessary tools and training to be effective leaders. His findings inspired him to write this book and dedicate himself to helping coaches at all levels improve their leadership abilities so that they can be the best and most effective leaders for the athletes they are entrusted to coach.
A romantic, erotic tale of a vivid portrayal of the quest for the inner truth, empowerment and sexual liberation of Selene, a woman searching for primeval abandon and reckless adventure.
Intelligent, a university graduate and a successful careerist, Selene became emotionally scarred by unhappy relationships. Riled and taunted through the years by her former college roommate Janice, Selene gave in to the long-term desire to ‘get one back’ at Janice by having a passionate holiday encounter. Immediately drawn to the sea and enthralled by its brutal yet sensual waves, Selene seduces a young boy on a deserted beach. Once she comes to meet the mature and powerful Hudson, Selene finally begins to claim her sensual destiny.
Through a slow process, accentuated by Selene’s shyness, introspection and circumspection, she embarks on a long and elaborate interplay of leading on and rejection. The volcanic passion builds until there is a blazing row. A possible drowning, the final ritual undressing at long last, leads to the ultimate flowering of the woman Selene was meant to be.
Included in Self’s Blossom are: Blossom Reburgeoning Selene, a little older but still well-preserved, decides to retrace the steps of her holiday. Up-to-date in spirit, she procures a companion through the Internet, and in the key scenes, she opts for alternatives to the choices she made on her first expedition. She feels enriched by her experience, and her sense of satisfaction removed her inhibitions from expressing her bisexuality.
Spatial Dimensions Selene becomes so fascinated by the Moon Goddess that bears her name, that she imagines and wills herself into becoming a goddess, to go on an etherial quest, embracing space and time travel, with concomitant ecstatic fulfilment.
As the sky turned a deep purple, seared by the moon’s beaming clarity, Selene’s room expanded. The walls pulled back, the ceiling rose, and the floor lowered to make a gigantic suite, richly carpeted and curtained in the deep, late twilight. There were lots of tables and cupboards but plenty of room to manoeuvre. With a flourish of the deep-green curtains, her young, slim, tanned lover tiptoed in through the balcony window, wearing khaki shorts and a white singlet. Selene unbuckled the shorts and pulled them down, stripping him down to black bathing trunks so that he, in style, could help her off with her rustling, glistening, shimmering ball gown. With gentle, knowing hands, he undid her back zip and then turned to face her. He unclasped the waist to part the airy dress until gravity drew it down to caress the carpet as a parabola, a floral parachute. Two-way unrobing, active and passive interlocked by two pairs of deft hands, while in the background, in reverie, water lapped, linking dream and wakefulness. Dreams can be worked out and realized, she thought. If things are well prepared and drawn out, the most could be made of them. The way could be paved for every touch. Grateful for her full wardrobe, Selene could hold herself in reserve until the time was ripe. She knew how to take her time with what she did and what she showed, control it all completely. Full-dress, half-dress, undress―all the garments she had she could use to draw, to thrust, and to parry. Let nobody approach her who was not adequate, nor let anyone fail to respond to her or cool his response in a way she did not care for.
All these thoughts invigorated Selene, and a full-length mirror called her to practice her postures. The negligee fell aside. On went her dark-blue, lacy underwear, a pale-blue slip, and over it, her evening dress. She moved around gently, making the dress rustle, then swirled on her left foot. The skirts rose high; her shapely limbs feasted her eyes at three angles. After the rise and fall, she undid it with ease, stepped over it to avoid crushing and picked it up and returned it to its hanger. The underwear was laid neat and flat on the bedside chair. Irons and airing cupboards could singe and scald if turned up too high, but within their limits, they formed a prelude and a backdrop to the finest caresses.
As the neon-looking sunray lamp played with her skin, thoughts of him wafted again into Selene’s mind. Whoever it was, she sensed that she had seen him already without fully registering him. At this very moment, he must be surveying himself in an identical mirror―slender, muscular and lovely, proud and supple in his new trunks, making ready for the hotel pool or for the private beach, to meet for their first tense introduction in undress. A telepathic answer must be given to that gesture. Selene snapped off the light―not wishing then and there to see herself fully nude in the mirror. She dived into the drawer, reaching for her mauve, one-piece bathing costume. This she pulled on, feeling an exhilarating double sense of revelation and concealment. On went the light again. Now she would be the adjudication panel of her own beauty contest. The costume smoothed the curves and magnetized what it covered. Her exercising had paid off. Her beauty was near completion in her own eyes. Tomorrow, maybe, the real process would begin. She changed back into her negligee, accepting its allure and functional comfort. Tomorrow she would appraise the selection. There were, perhaps, different standards of men fitted for affairs of briefer or longer duration―a sliding scale of transitory compatibility.
Self’s Blossom, by David Russell, is one of those romantic, erotic tales of discovery that’s filled with detailed imagery, well-defined characters, and scenes that are loaded with emotion. Selene is portrayed well as a vibrant main character, and I fell in love with her from the start. The organized mix of realism combined with escapism had me respecting her throughout the entire book, which is extremely important in any erotic romance. This is a very well-written book, with a distinct literary flair, where careful attention is paid to intelligent (and again, very well-written) dialogue that is constantly moving the story forward. The settings are described so well, in fact, I thought I was on holiday myself. The characters are crafted with such detail I felt as if I knew them. And when I was finished reading, I knew they would remain with me for a long time.
Mimi Barbour, Amazon Reviewer, 4⭐
In ‘Self’s Blossom’ our heroine, Selene, is on a journey both literally and figuratively. She’s very introspective and by David Russell’s eloquent prose style of writing, we get to feel everything she feels as she makes this journey of self-discovery. The words take one’s complete attention, no skimming allowed or you miss the essence of what the author is trying to say. The two heroes, both the young lad and Hunter the older fellow are well portrayed. But this book is really about Selene and her search. It is erotica – but not in any way the average type of sexy book you’re used to. This is poetry!
Born in the UK, 1940. David has been writing erotica since the mid-1980s. Published extensively in magazines and anthologies (including anthologies from Forward Press in Peterborough UK.
Book Publications ‘Prickling Counterpoints’ (Selected Poetry & Prose), Deadline Books 1998, ‘Romantic Undress’ (Erotic Poetry & Prose) JazzClaw Publications 2000. Current romantica/erotica publications are ‘Self’s Blossom’ (novella), and ‘Explorations’ (short story), published by Devine Destinies; ‘Therapy Rapture’ (poetry, prose and artwork) published by Rose Dog Books. Forthcoming are two short stories, ‘My Dream of Madonna/An Ecstatic Rendezvous’, to be published by XoXo Publishing.
Also recorded singer-songwriter: vinyl album, ‘Bricolage’ recorded by Billy
Childish for Hangman Records 1992; CD albums ‘Bacteria
Shrapnel’ and ‘The Burglars of
Have you ever set out to have a one night stand with a sexy stranger?
No? I’m the only one?
Just kidding, I would never.
But then I figured, why not? My entire life I’ve been good and it’s gotten me nowhere.
I’m owed a little fun, aren’t I? A reward for being good.
Sure, a new pair of shoes would be more appropriate, but Mr. Sexy Stranger is more appealing. And when he speaks—in that British accent—it’s a done deal. Every American woman has a hot British guy fantasy. Well, most do. I haven’t taken a poll or anything, but I’m pretty sure it’s a fact.
You know that saying about best-laid plans?
Good, because I don’t either, but I assume they go awry.
Like my one night stand…
The moment I laid eyes on Kyle Kingston I knew he was a mistake. A satisfying, toe curling, hair pulling, best night of my life mistake, but a mistake all the same. I didn’t yet know his name, or who he was, but I knew he was a bad idea.
I take comfort in that, because it means my instincts are still good. Too late, but it’s something.
Because, FYI, I’m pregnant
… and did I mention my baby daddy is both heir to a retail empire and impossible to get ahold of?
I do what any girl would. I break into his Grandfather’s retirement gala by telling the prissy gatekeeper Kyle’s my fiancé. It was a halfway decent plan at the time, trust me.
But it blows up in my face, disastrously so. You see, Kyle Kingston is all about representing the family values his family’s retail empire was founded on. At least in public. In private- well I’ll tell you about that later.
He proposes – a marriage of convenience.
Convenient for everyone but me, because while I’m falling in love with my convenient husband, he’s keeping a billion-dollar secret. From me.
Jana Aston likes cats, big coffee cups and books about billionaires who deflower virgins. She wrote her debut novel while fielding customer service calls about electrical bills, and she’s ever grateful for the fictional gynecologist in Wrong that readers embraced so much she was able to make working in her pajamas a reality. Jana’s novels have appeared on the NYT, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists, some multiple times. She likes multiples.
Madison Fox just learned that her ability to see souls is more than a sight: It’s a weapon for fighting evil. The only problem is she doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing.
On the positive side, her money problems are over and her coworker is smoking hot. On the negative side, evil creatures now actively hunt her, and deadly experiences are becoming the norm.
When she thinks it couldn’t get worse, a powerful evil sets up shop at a local hotel’s video game convention, and it’s got its eye on more than the gaming geeks—it’s hungry for Madison’s soul. Madison needs to become an expert illuminant enforcer overnight to save her job, her region…and her life.
Madison Fox survived her first week as California’s newest illuminant enforcer, but if her grumpy boss, Mr. Pitt, was impressed, he hasn’t told Madison. In fact, there’s a lot her boss has been closemouthed about, including the dark secret haunting his past.
But Madison’s problems are just igniting. Neighboring regions report an uncharacteristic flare-up of evil, fire-breathing salamanders blaze unchecked across the city, and Black Friday looms. Trapped doing cleanup amid mobs of holiday shoppers, Madison watches from the sidelines as dubious allies insinuate themselves in her region.
As suspicions kindle and the mysterious evil gains strength, Madison must determine who she can trust—and whose rules to follow—before her region and career go up in flames.
Madison Fox is determined to reform Jamie, her half-evil pooka, but the bond linking her to Jamie works both ways. Already, it has manipulated her into bending the rules. If she continues down this path, she could doom her soul. Since her judgment can’t be trusted, a high-ranking inspector now dictates Madison’s every interaction with Jamie, and each directive drives them further apart.
Unfortunately, Madison has bigger issues than the potential degradation of her soul. Winter has struck with a vengeance. Frost moths plague the entire state, reinforcing the artificially frigid temperature. Worse, cold-blooded, soul-stealing enemies are flocking into her region from the north—creatures Madison has little defense against.
With the inspector scrutinizing her every misstep, Madison is in for the battle of her life. If she hopes to survive, she must make an impossible choice: save herself and her region or save Jamie.
An imaginative urban fantasy filled with heart, humor, and plenty of butt-kicking action—A Fistful of Frost is a book you won’t want to miss.
I expected the inspector to look like an Army Ranger, tall, muscular, and radiating an “I could kill you if I wanted to” vibe. The woman who stepped from the car shattered my assumptions. Midfifties, petite, and pale, with a slash of bright auburn in her chin-length white-blond hair, Inspector Pamela Hennessey didn’t look authoritative until her assessing gaze landed on me. Then I fought not to squirm.
“Madison Fox and the pooka Jamie,” she said, not quite a greeting and not a question. It would have sounded rude if not delivered in her posh British accent. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“All good, I hope,” I quipped.
She eyed me up and down, giving me a noncommittal, “Mmm.”
My smile froze at the corners.
Rose climbed from the driver’s seat and shut the car door with more force than necessary. The Latina empath gave me a curt nod, as if we were strangers and not coworkers and friends. What the hell? I stopped pretending to smile. Jamie shifted closer, brushing his gloved hand against mine, worry crinkling his eyebrows as he read the tension of the group. I gave him a shoulder bump to reassure him, pretending to be relaxed. Pamela’s gaze snapped from our touching hands to our shoulders to our faces, and I fought the urge to leap away from Jamie as if I were doing something wrong.
“Give me a net and let’s get your purity test out of the way, Madison,” the inspector said.
“Pardon me?” Wasn’t a purity test a medieval way to judge a woman’s virginity? Not only had that ship long since sailed, but I also didn’t see how it would be relevant—or anyone’s business. I checked Brad’s neutral expression. Did details about my sex life fall under the impress her or don’t embarrass me category?
The inspector rounded on Brad, wispy-fine hair flaring on either side of her pink headband earmuffs. “She doesn’t know what a purity test is? You haven’t tested her once in the last five days?”
“Madison’s purity has never been in question.”
A warning frizzled down my spine at Brad’s bland tone. She’d put him on the defense. I glanced to Rose for a clue, but she only grimaced and looked away.
“Don’t let your recent victories make you arrogant, Brad,” Pamela said. “Of course her purity is in question. She’s bonded to a pooka.”
Aha! This wasn’t about virginity; this was about Jamie’s dual nature and the metaphysical bond he’d placed on me. I’d been warned—repeatedly—to be careful of Jamie’s darker half; more than one bonded enforcer had been corrupted by a pooka’s morally ambiguous influence. No one had mentioned purity tests.
“This is to see if Jamie has . . . changed me?” I asked, choosing my words carefully in deference to Jamie. Nothing in his expression said he took offense to the insinuation that our link might have tainted me. He saw nothing wrong with wielding atrum as readily as lux lucis, and if I failed a purity test, it’d probably make him happy.
“Changed you?” Pamela echoed. “No. I need to know if the pooka’s bond has sullied you.”
So much for being tactful. I peeked sideways at Jamie, but he hadn’t reacted, his gaze focused beyond Pamela on the people walking by.
“Is there a problem?” the inspector asked.
“No. Of course not, but, Inspector Hennessey—” I shot Brad a desperate look.
“Call me Pamela. Never Pam.”
“Got it. Um, Pamela—”
“She doesn’t know how to make a net,” Brad said for me.
“Why not?” Pamela demanded, spinning to confront my boss again, the hem of her wool coat flaring to reveal the calves of her pale leather boots.
“I haven’t had the luxury of instituting a methodical training regimen with Madison.”
“Mmm,” Pamela said.
I was starting to hate that noise.
“And if she encountered a frost moth?” she asked.
“She has a lighter.”
One I’d purchased this afternoon at Brad’s insistence. Shaped like a small blowtorch, with a trigger to ignite the flame, it was the fanciest lighter I’d ever owned. It also had the distinction of being the only lighter I’d ever purchased with the intention of using as a weapon—or at least I thought that was the plan. I pressed my lips together. Now wouldn’t be a good time to confess that after reading Val’s entry on sjel tyver, I’d completely forgotten to ask the handbook about frost moths—what they looked like, where to find them, or how to kill them.
“I can instruct Madison on nets now,” Brad offered.
The inspector shook her head. “Let’s get the inquisition out of the way.”
REBECCA CHASTAIN is the USA Today bestselling author of the Madison Fox urban fantasy series and the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles fantasy trilogy, among other works. Inside her novels, you’ll find spellbinding adventures packed with supernatural creatures, thrilling action, heartwarming characters (human and otherwise), and more than a little humor. Rebecca lives in Northern California with her charming husband and two bossy cats.